The Knicks fell to the New Orleans Pelicans 77-72 in their opening game of the Las Vegas Summer League but a lot of positives can be taken out of this game, after all, the Summer League is about finding and developing new talent. The results don’t really matter.
The Knicks may have found some very underrated big man after this game as Jeremy Tyler and Eloy Vargas both put in work on both ends of the floor. Jeremy Tyler finished with a double double racking up 10 points and 11 assists, not to mention a steal too. Vargas had slightly worse numbers (9 points, 2 rebounds) but showed up on the defensive end of things, looking like a defensive anchor at some points in the game.
Many people will be wondering how new signings Tim Hardaway Jr. and C.J Leslie did. The best way to describe Hardaway’s first game in Orange and Blue was inconsistent. Hardaway Jr. went off for a team leading 13 points but only shot 4-12 from the field and 1-6 from behind the arc. It was the second half that went wrong for him as he was making sure that the Pelicans paid for their mistakes in the first half but as a rookie playing in his first game, he’s allowed to be off his game in the summer, but come showtime this November he has to be ready for the NBA and thats why he’s also developing his game more in the Summer League. As for Leslie, I’m sure he’d but happy with inconsistent but that would be a huge overstatement as he didn’t look sharp at any point during this game. Leslie finished 7 points (2-9 shooting), 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Leslie didn’t look sharp on either end of the floor but again with it being his first game with the team, and this being the Summer League where you get to develop your skills, it was a performance, which would now hopefully get the nervousness out and allow him to focus on the game.
Some of the performances that were encouraging signs were Toure Murray’s and Terrence Jennings. Murray only got to see the floor for 12 minutes but he made sure that those minutes counted as he totaled 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting 4-6 from the floor. You can expect that the Knicks coaching staff will give him an increase in minutes after a performance like this. Murray show speed, athleticism, and energy on the court as he was driving in the lane and dishing the ball allowing for spacing and it looked as though the Knicks found their third string PG tonight. But there are still a few games left for the Knicks to see if this was luck or if it was a legitimate showing of what this kid can do. As for Terrence Jennings, he too got to see 12 minutes of action in this game but he stuffed the stat sheet as he went on to tally 6 points on 3-5 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block. He really showed what he could do on both ends of the floor and didn’t hoist up any stupid shots. He created separation from whoever was guarding him and he show athleticism when he was fighting it out on the glass for every board. Jennings, too deserves a boost in minutes as he looked like he could do it all when given time.
The only performance that was particularly bad was Chris Smith’s performance. Chris Smith shot the ball poorly (3-9) and was not showing commitment on the defensive side of the game. The only reason Chris Smith is on this roster is to please his big brother, JR Smith. But giving this guy 19 minutes, and only giving Murray and Jennings 12 minutes a piece, when they are better prospects does not seem right. Smith crippled the team on defense and if he doesn’t show more commitment then I see Mike Woodson and Glen Grunwald not giving Smith a look in at making the Knicks final roster.
The Knicks next game is Sunday at 4:00 ET where they will be going against Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards hoping to get their first win in the Las Vegas Summer league.